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Santiago de Compostela

walk around Galicia
galician language
country of stone
rites & traditions
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Galicia is a large granite stone in which our culture is sculpted. Since prehistory, the stones have been the object of pagan cult in our tradition. Stone is the main feature in curative and fertility rituals whish still survive nowadays.



Our ancestors believed in the power of the stones and made from them:
dolmens, petroglyphs, hillforts, bridges, "pallozas", "milladoiros" and later crosses, raised granaries, monasteries, castles, country houses, churches, cathedrals....

Stone was seen as a link between the supernatural, the sacred and the eternal.
Some of the stones linked to cults are:

image· The Serpent of Gondomil Stone (A Pedra da Serpe de Gondomil). The "Saefes" were one of the peoples prior to the arrival of the Celts and the serpent was part of their animistic cult. On this stone, for some a druidic altar, there is a winged, coiled serpent measuring one and a half metres. Like many other stones used on pagan cults this one too became Christianised. This is how the legend of San Adrián arose; he frightened away all the serpents from the region by stamping heavily on the floor.

image· The "Pedra dos Cadrís" and the "Pedra de Abalar": It is believed that this is part of the stone boat which brought the Virgin to Muxía (legend of the Virgin of the Boat "A Virxe da Barca") The people pass underneath the stone 9 times to be cured of kidney and back problems (foto). The "Pedra de Abalar" is the boat's sail, which according to tradition, some attempt to move to make their wishes come true. It is said that only those with a great deal of faith will be able to move it.

image· St William's Stone "A Pedra de San Guillerme": At Fisterra on San Guillerme mountain, there is an anthropomorphic tomb, called the saint's bed. Couples with fertility problem visit there. They lie down on the stone and trust in its fertility giving properties. This tradition is linked to the "Ara Solis", the western sun altar made of stone which is placed on this mountain at the end of the world.

image· Pedrón: According to the legend this is the stone to which Santiago's disciples tied the boat on which they returned his body. Since then it has been kept at the Santiago church at Padrón.

image· Santo dos Croques: We find this at Santiago Cathedral and it is an effigy of Maestro Mateo, author of "El Pórtico de la Gloria". We find him kneeling to one side of the portico looking towards the Great Altar (Altar Mayor). It is a further ritual to give three taps to his head of curly hair to gain something of his genius and intelligence.

image· Trade stones(Laudas gremiales): These can be visited at the Santa María A Nova church at Noia, a city linked to the legend of Noah and the Flood. We find some tombstones covered with trade symbols identifying different professions in this church. Anchors and boats for sailors, scissors and needle for tailors, insoles for shoemakers and so on.

Some depict symbols which are difficult to decipher and conceal the secret language of the medieval stonemasons.

image· Pindo Mountain. (Carnota) Also known as the Celtic Olympus. This is a legendary place and its peculiar morphology helps to fuel the imagination of those who gaze upon it. The stones appear to take human form. Its granite peaks seem like stone warriors.

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